F/O William Reid VC

The following article appeared in the Museum’s Newsletter in the fall of 1995.
by Paul Whitfield

Earlier this year my son Peter and I had the pleasure of meeting Flight Lieutenant William Reid VC, RAFVR in Toronto.

On the night of 3-4 of November 1943, a raid was carried out on Dusseldorf. F/L Reid of No. 61 Squadron flying LM 360/QR-O was attacked. First by a BF109 1106 single seater. This second attack killed the navigator and mortally wounded the wireless operator, damaged the mid-upper turret, elevator trim tabs, and put the oxygen systems as well as the intercom out of action. The pilot received further wounds and the cockpit canopy was badly damaged.

Despite his injured arm the flight engineer, using a portable bottle, gave oxygen to his captain who having memorized the course to the target, decided to press on and bomb. In the nose of the aircraft the bomb aimer, unaware of his dead and wounded comrades, carried on with his duties and dropped his bombs accurately over the target (as confirmed by the photo flash picture brought home).

Reid set course for home, navigating by the moon and pole star, brought the crippled Lancaster back over Holland. Occasionally, he lapsed into semi consciousness due to loss of blood and lack of oxygen (which was now exhausted). Assisted by his flight engineer and bomb aimer, he avoided enemy flak over Holland.

He managed to get the crippled Lancaster to the Norfolk coast, making an emergency landing at the American base at Shipdham near East Dereham. At the last moment the undercarriage callapsed but with no further injury to the crew.

Not only was Reid awarded the supreme decoration for Valor, but F/E Sergeant James William Norris, won the conspicuous Gallantry Medal, while the rear gunner was awarded the DFC. The Lancaster was repaired ad later joined 50 Squadron only to be written off a year later.

A very interesting conversation was enjoyed with Bill Reid, informing him about the “Nanton Lancaster” and our members’ efforts to bring F2-T to its original condition in memory of S/L Leader Bazelgette VC DFC.

We had great pleasure in presenting Bill with a copy of our Newsletter and a Nanton cap, which he said he would wear at his local golf course, St. Andrews.